Although this is the Tuesday Slot with Irene, we welcome a new contributor, Greg Jennings with his “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, once again Irene Parker was the editor. As usual we will have a quick roundup of some of the news in Europe.
Yesterday we published the article on Silverpoint and their announcement that they had stopped the resale programme of Club Paradiso, today we received another Newsletter. This one is from Club Paradiso and is slightly different from the last in that they now claim they are looking at alternative “Marketing Agencies” to begin the “Resale Programme” for Club Paradiso members.
The question is now, will this be a company set up by Silverpoint, or will it be an already existing company?
The other question is regarding the resale market itself, where is it?
That question we leave you the reader to answer.
Last week Canarian Legal Alliance announced their 96th and 97th Supreme Court victories, this is an amazing achievement, making yet again Spanish legal history. These cases were against Puerto Rico SA (Puerto Calma) and Silverpoint respectively. Both contracts being declared null and void and the total awarded in both cases 56,600€ plus legal fees and legal interest.
CLA also published in their news section a letter from one of their clients, Mr Rolf Ingvar Høyer, (Professor Emeritus (BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo). In this letter he explains his dealings with CLA in the long running case against Anfi.
This began in 2009 and ended up with the case being heard at the Supreme Court, with 131,000€ being transferred to his bank account at the end of last year. For his full story follow the link to the CLA website.
With all the negative spin being put out by Anfi against CLA, this should leave you the reader in no doubt that timeshare companies cannot be trusted with the truth.
So on we go with another readers experience at the hands of Diamond sales agents.
My Name is Recycled Inventory
By Greg Jennings
Diamond complaint #58 out of 94 Inside Timeshare received since January 1
March 20, 2018
How I became a victim of Diamond Resorts
The first year: They said that there was a meeting I should have been invited to, but if I wrote a note to the sales manager stating that I was not aware of this meeting, I could buy additional points at the reduced sale price.
2017: I attended yet another Owner Update, unhappy with my Diamond ownership. I was in way too deep and my employment situation was not secure. During this meeting, Las Vegas DRI sales agent Jeff Regier asked why I was unhappy, and then proceeded to tailor his sales pitch accordingly. I told Jeff that the outstanding loan was unaffordable, and that without full time work, my savings had been depleted in order to keep my Diamond loan current.
That’s when he offered what appeared to be the perfectly tailored pitch:
If I purchased 4000 additional points, I would be at a level where I could use the points to pay maintenance fees, would qualify for a lower interest rate on the mortgage, and most importantly, if I was unable to continue, I could pursue the “Exit Strategy”, where Diamond would buy back my ownership at a reduced rate. Jeff said these benefits wouldn’t be accessible until after January 1, 2018. This is how they dodge the rescission period.
If you want to actually take a vacation and enjoy it without being forced to sit in an office for 7 hours then AVOID DIAMOND INTERNATIONAL. I had 2 specifically bad Sales reps here Andrew Fernando, wouldn’t let us leave even when my Son needed food. Went and got food so that we could STAY. My son needed a Nap, he said, go give him a nap and then COME BACK!
Right, because that’s what I want to do on vacation, spend time with Andrew Fernando all day. Then Jeff Regier got involved. He actually corrected Andrew 4 times in front of me for not clearly explaining what was going on. Once I figured out that they wanted me to spend 30K More, I was out.
Back to my nightmare
My story begins 2006 or 2007. I was in a bad place in life. Most of my records had been lost. Talking about this is uncomfortable, because I feel stupid for falling for the scam I now understand this timeshare sale was. I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I only hope my story helps others understand the predatory nature of this industry and just how worthless the product is in relation to what it cost me.
I had originally purchased a timeshare from Monarch Grand Vacations believing I had purchased a retirement travel lifestyle for just under $10, 000. The sales pitch was impressive. Monarch owned eight premier resorts in the western United States and was affiliated with Interval International. In addition, Monarch owners could enjoy “unlimited Day Use” at any Monarch property, without using points.
My grandmother had recently died, leaving me with a small inheritance. I was drinking and gambling. In my depression I think I just wanted to secure some part of normalcy. I attend a convention in Las Vegas every year so assumed this ownership would make that more affordable. I had been suffering with a disability due to a chronic back injury. With no support base, dependent on narcotic pain medication, I was an easy mark for the timeshare sales team.
The first year was pleasant enough. I was able to travel to Las Vegas using the points, but was disappointed to learn Monarch would be going through bankruptcy.
The second year I exchanged my points through Interval International.
The third year in Las Vegas, I attended a Diamond “Owner Update” where I encountered the hard sale. They said due to bankruptcy, Monarch inventory was being transferred to creditors. With inventory dwindling to zero, there would eventually be no availability so my only option to preserve the value of my investment was to purchase into the Diamond Resorts family, as DRI was the largest creditor. This was accomplished with a separate loan, monthly payments, and an increase in maintenance fees.
Over the next few years, the owner updates were roughly the same. Apollo Global Management acquired Diamond and point values had been adjusted. I was told that in order to continue to attend my annual conference I would need to purchase additional points in order to find available inventory. These updates often exceeded three or four hours. My need for pain medication made me susceptible to doing whatever I could to end the updates. I panicked thinking everything I had been paying for would be valueless as Diamond reduced inventory in order to escalate demand for DRI points.
In 2016, I made what I thought would be my final purchase. I had just made Silver Level, but DRI sales agent Paul said that I was not financially viable unless I became Gold. I left with a new $374 monthly payment on a 15 year loan. I had been struggling to make the prior loan since my second accident that happened in 2011. I had lost my home to foreclosure while on temporary disability.
In 2017, I attended yet another Owner Update now seriously unhappy with Diamond. I was in way too deep and my employment situation wasn’t secure. I told Jeff the loan was unaffordable and that my savings had been depleted. I had been trying to sell my timeshare on the secondary market but there was no demand for Diamond points. The $3000 maintenance fee cost more than 10 days in many hotels. The only way I had been able to secure DRI availability was in response to marketing emails which required another sales meeting.
During this update, DRI sales Jeff Regier asked why I was unhappy, and then proceeded to tailor his sales pitch accordingly: If I purchased 4000 additional points, I would be at a level where I could use the points to pay maintenance fees, would qualify for a lower interest rate on the mortgage, and most importantly, if I was simply unable to continue, I could pursue the “Exit Strategy” – Diamond would buy back my ownership at a reduced rate. These new benefits wouldn’t be accessible until after January 1, 2018. This is how they dodge the rescission period.
This “exit Strategy” was what I believed would be my way out. I of course didn’t need or want more points. Jeff Reiger knew I couldn’t afford more points. I only bought points because I was desperate to end my relationship with DRI. He used that to hook me. He also said he would act as my point of contact for all future DRI dealings, getting me discounted bookings and that I wouldn’t have to deal with any more sales people. After almost 4 hours, I needed to be done.
As it turned out, the interest rate was essentially the same, the loan was now 10 years, and part of the balance needed to be on a Diamond branded Barclays credit card offered at 0% interest. Jeff said if I called him in January he would get the 0% extended, and that I could use the card to pay down principal on the note. The loan required direct access to my checking account for approximately $560 per month. I went online in January with the tablet I had been given as instructed by Jeff, but could find no promised, “Exit strategy”, the ability to pay maintenance fees with points, or any form of buyback program. I had been duped.
I called Jeff in January and asked him to extend the zero percent interest on the credit card, and transfer some of the loan balance to the Barclaycard. He said I needed to call the credit card issuer myself, because he couldn’t do it without my personal information. He said if they would not extend it I could apply for a new card with a promotional interest rate. He then said he would be unavailable because he was going on vacation. This was the final straw. This was when I realized what a fool I had been to believe anything these people told me.
With my remaining 2017 points, I booked a trip to Hawaii by responding to a promotional email for Kona Village Resort. During the mandatory update, I refused to buy more points. I was then accused of illegally recording the meeting. The sales manager demanded I sign a blank form. When I refused, he said he’d “take care of it” adding that I’d never get a discount booking again. They also refused the promised resort vouchers for attending the presentation. This was a breach of the timeshare practice offering compensation for attending promotional meetings without obligation to purchase.
Sales agents claim points have value. They told me to preserve value I had to buy more points. They told me they would make ownership more affordable. They told me I could use points to pay maintenance fees. They told me if I couldn’t continue, they would buy back my ownership – LIES – every one of them. When I sent a letter to Diamond requesting information on the promised “Exit Strategy” I received an email stating no such strategy exists.
I have run out of money. The automatic payments have drained my account. I have come to terms with the fact that I have wasted over $60,000 over the last ten years trying to preserve what I was told was an investment in retirement travel.
As I sit here today, I am unemployed, struggling with a disability, and financially devastated. Diamond collection agents call every day. When they call, I ask if they are offering me employment. At first, they told me I needed to confirm my contact information for security purposes. When I refused, they told me they couldn’t discuss my account, so I ended the phone calls. They still call but no longer ask for verification. When I ask about the exit strategy, or if they are aware of promises made by their sales staff, they tell me they are only going to discuss my account. So I end the call.
I have no idea how to proceed, but I cannot pay with money I don’t have. I am sure they will find many ways to ruin what was left of my credit having bled me of my finances. They don’t care. I see them as predators. They will move on to new victims, and the cycle will continue. But I will no longer participate.
I am recycled inventory.
Comments from Irene: Greg is not stupid. We have heard from doctors, lawyers, a contract specialist for Consolidated Edison, professors, 34 active duty and retired military including Raymond Mori, recipient of two Purple Hearts. His daughter Teresa Laird submitted an article for this coming Friday’s Letter from America. I have an MBA and a CFP. We all signed DRI contracts. We all say we were told things that were not true. With 338 Diamond Inside Timeshare reader complaints received since late 2016, Greg is not alone. Unresolved complaints:
We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
We’re here for Greg
Thank you Greg, your story is truly up there with the worst of “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. Also thanks to Irene and all the volunteers who are helping people like Greg. These stories are becoming all too familiar at Inside Timeshare, with readers contacting us on an almost daily basis.
If you have any questions or comments about anything in this article or previous one published, contact Inside Timeshare, using our contact form for a private message or post a comment on the relevant article.
Have you been contacted by a company offering you a service such as resale, claims or relinquishment, or are searching the net for one, then remember to do your homework before engaging with them. If you require any help in checking their validity, then use the contact form with your questions, we will then get back to you and point you in the right direction.
It pays to be diligent so do your homework and save your money!